Tag Archives: Scripps National Spelling Bee

Flushing student to compete in Scripps National Spelling Bee, aims for back-to-back Queens champs

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Liam La Guerre

What’s that buzzing?

The Scripps National Spelling Bee is quickly approaching, and Queens could have another student bring back a golden honey-colored trophy from Washington D.C. on Thursday.

In 2013, Bayside Hills resident Arvind Mahankali became the king bee in his final eligible year. This year, Flushing’s Sai Vishudhi Chandrasekhar is back for another round of the contest, but a new challenger from the borough is eager to take the stage as well.

Anil Singh, a fifth grader at P.S./I.S. 499 in Flushing, is set to debut in the National Spelling Bee and battle 280 other young wordsmiths around the country for the crown.

“I’m honored to have this opportunity and I won’t let [Queens] down,” Anil said.

Anil has been participating in spelling bees since second grade when he said his teacher forced the class to engage in the activity, which he thought was “weird.”

“I thought it was some random, weird oral spelling test,” said Anil, a South Ozone Park resident.

The entire class lost on the word “sandal,” and Anil remembers spelling it “s-a-n-d-e-l.” But after that mistake he didn’t miss a word, eventually facing a classmate in a showdown for the second grade title. He spelled the word “pilot” correctly to win his first-ever bee.

“After that I found out what a spelling bee was and I liked it, and I did it the next year, and the next year and the year after that,” Anil said.

He has never lost a spelling bee—his record now stands at 6-0— and because fifth-grade is the first time he could advance to the borough and city rounds, he was able to beat out students from around the five boroughs to represent the region after spelling “metachrosis” on March 20.

Anil is studying an average of two to three hours a day for the national contest.

Using the list of words that Scripps provided for the tournament, he has divided them into different categories, such as similar origins and definitions, to help remember. He also writes down words numerous times so they will stick in his memory. But he admits he doesn’t know every word and may have to guess.

“Most of it in the spelling bee is guess work,” Anil said. “The hardest part is learning how to guess.”

Catch the preliminary rounds of the bee on Wednesday, May 28 on ESPN.




Bayside deli holds knaidel contest in honor of spelling champ

| mchan@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Congressmember Grace Meng

Spelling whizzes or news junkies could land themselves a free matzo ball.

Ben’s Kosher Deli of Bayside is offering a free knaidel to any customer who buys a quart of chicken soup and can spell the word that sealed a local teen’s recent victory at the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Correctly spelling knaidel — a Yiddish word of German origin that means “dumpling” — sealed Arvind Mahankali’s victory on May 23.

It was the M.S. 74 eight grader’s fourth and final showing at the competition after finishing third the last two years.

“Knaidel may be hard to spell, but it is definitely delicious,” said Ronnie Dragoon, founder and owner of Ben’s Deli.

Keen customers can save about $1.50 if they nail the spelling. A quart of chicken soup costs $7.99 on its own.

The promotion runs until June 30 at the participating Ben’s in the Bay Terrace Shopping Center. It is located at 211-37 26th Avenue.

The restaurant has given away more than 50 knaidels since the promotion began on June 6, managers said.

Another Ben’s location in Rego Park recently announced a new dish named after the local spelling whiz.

Arvind dined on his “mini knaidels” with Congressmember Grace Meng on June 9.

The lawmaker also gave the spelling champ an American flag that was flown over the U.S. Capitol in his honor.

“Only in Queens, the most diverse county in America, can an Indian-American kid win a national contest for correctly spelling the Yiddish word for matzo ball,” Meng said. “It is a tremendous honor to congratulate him on his outstanding achievement. He has made our borough and our city and state proud.



Spelling champ Arvind Mahankali talks win, first taste of knaidel

| mchan@queenscourier.com

THE COURIER/Photos by Rosa Kim

Victory is as savory as a k-n-a-i-d-e-l.

Teen whiz Arvind Mahankali tried his first Matzo ball after correctly spelling the above synonym for the dish to win this year’s Scripps National Spelling Bee.

“It was actually very good,” said the 13-year-old from Bayside. “It tasted excellent.”

Arvind, who swallowed the whole bowl, has been eating up national stardom since his live televised feat on May 30.

“There have been some people on the streets in New York City who actually recognized me,” he said. “They say congratulations. It feels weird. It’ll take some time getting used to.”

This was the M.S. 74 eighth grader’s fourth and final try at the prestigious contest. He placed third at the last two Bees.

“I’m glad that I at least was able to be consistent the past few times,” Arvind said. “All I wanted this time was to get to the finals.”

He exceeded that goal, beating 281 contestants and winning more than $30,000 in cash and prizes.

Arvind has been on an endless media tour since he took home first place.

“There have been a lot of interviews,” he said the night before being honored back to back by his school and Mayor Michael Bloomberg. “It’s actually been somewhat tiring. I haven’t had the opportunity to just rest.”

Not that he is used to resting.

Arvind started prepping for this year’s spelling bee almost immediately after being booted from the competition last year, when the German-based word “schwannoma,” meaning a type of cancer, eliminated him.

He would come home from school, finish his homework and read the dictionary as long as four hours a night until lights out, according to his mother.

“I’m very proud of him,” Bhavani Mahankali said. “He was so composed. He worked so hard.”

Studying certainly paid off. The smooth speller had come across his final word “knaidel” before.

“All I thought was that I knew this word and that I had to spell it right,” he said.

The aspiring physicist will enter Stuyvesant High School next year.

His father, Srinivas Mahankali, said the victory was “like a dream come true” for the family.

“It’s totally unlike anything,” he said of the national spotlight on his humble son. “The experience so far is unbelievable. It’s a blessing for us. We’re enjoying the moment right now.”

As for studying the dictionary, Arvind is more or less ready to put away his lexicon.

“I will sort of miss it,” he said, “but I will have some more free time to study physics and math and play some more tennis.”



Queens eighth grader Arvind Mahankali wins Scripps National Spelling Bee

| aaltamirano@queenscourier.com

Photos by Mark Bowen / Scripps National Spelling Bee

Arvind Mahankali finished his last year at the Scripps National Spelling Bee with a bang.

After two years of placing third at the annual competition, the 13-year-old took first place last night after correctly spelling the word “knaidel,” meaning dumpling.

Mahankali is an eighth grade student from Nathaniel Hawthorne Middle School 74 in Bayside.

According to his profile on the Bee’s official website, he loves math and science and looks to one day become a physicist.

Mahankali has participated in the competition for the previous three years, placing ninth in 2010 and third in 2011 and 2012, according to Scripps. This year is Mahankali’s last year participating because he moves on to high school next year.

The winner of the spelling bee receives a $30,000 cash prize and the Scripps National Spelling Bee engrave trophy, saving bonds, $2,000 of reference works and a complete reference library.

This year’s competition featured 281 spellers from the 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands and Department of Defense Dependents Schools in Europe; as well as the Bahamas, Canada, China, Ghana, Jamaica, Japan and South Korea.


Queens’ Morning Roundup

| ctumola@queenscourier.com


Friday: Partly cloudy. Fog early. High of 91. Winds from the SW at 5 to 15 mph. Friday night: Partly cloudy in the evening, then clear. Low of 72. Winds from the SSW at 5 to 15 mph.


Audiences of all ages have the unique opportunity to hear and perform on unique, one­-of­-a­-kind instruments in Paul Rudolph’s percussion ensemble, GLANK. Suit-up in lab coats, blend in with the performers and have a blast at this interactive, multi­media music performance at the Secret Theater from Friday, May 31 to Sunday, June 2. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

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Queens’ Morning Roundup

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

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Queens whiz Arvind Mahankali places third at Scripps National Spelling Bee for 2nd straight year

| brennison@queenscourier.com

Arvind Mahankali

Queens whiz Arvind Mahankali will never forget how to spell “schwannoma.”

For the second straight year, Mahankali placed third at the Scripps National Spelling Bee after misspelling the word s-c-h-v-o-n-o-m-a and hearing the dreaded ding of elimination. Mahankali came in ninth in 2010.

For his spellbinding run, Mahankali won $7,500.

The 12-year-old wordsmith advanced to the national championships after winning the Daily News New York Spelling Bee for the third straight year.

The seventh grader still has a chance to take home Scripps’ top prize; he still has one year of eligibility.

Snigdha Nandipati, 14 of San Diego, correctly spelled “guetapens” to win the competition and take home $37,500 in prizes.

Besides spelling, Mahankali also play tennis and basketball and performs drama and classical Indian music. An avid reader, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” is his favorite book.

Queens’ Morning Roundup

| lguerre@queenscourier.com

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